To become service connected (SC) for a disability: 1. Event/Issue in service 2. Current diagnosis 3. Doctor connecting 1 and 2 There are other avenues which include presumptive conditions, like if you were deployed under certain circumstances (like Vietnam, OEF/IEF, etc…), or if a chronic condition appeared within a year after you got out.
There are also secondary claims, where a SC disability, or medication used to treat a SC disability, caused another disability. For Guard/Reserve, there are special line of duty (LOD) requirements which may apply.
To become service connected (SC) for a disability:
- Event/Issue in service
- Current diagnosis
- Doctor connecting 1 and 2
Evidence is very important, so try to get all that you can. When you have it, compare it to what you may already have.
- Make sure you have an account setup with MyhealtheVet. After additional authentication, you can pull your personnel file and VA medical records.
- Do the same for Ebenefits
- Request a copy of your personnel record via Military Service Records Online from the National Archives.
- Request a copy of your claims file (c-file) from the VA. This could take weeks to months (most likely) to arrive
- Request a copy of your service medical records from the VA. These are often available by contacting the Release of Information Office at your VAMC. They claim it will take 4 business weeks or so, but in reality it likely will take longer.
- If you had medical treatment at a civilian facility, try to get those records too. Please bear in mind that they may have destroyed copies and/or might charge you money for copies, which can add up. Only get what you deem potentially relevant to current or future claims.
- Please bear in mind that some facilities (VA, military, and civilian) may keep dental and/or imaging (X-ray, CAT scan, MRI, etc…) records apart from regular records and they may need to be obtained separately. Some VAMC’s keep these at their Radiology department, but they will make you fill out a release of information form first.
- Try to obtain copies of Monday Morning Reports (MMR’s) and unit records from units with which you served.
- If you are or can get in contact with people who knew you before/during/after service, and who could attest to observing your condition, then they may be able to write a “buddy letter” on your behalf. These are not guaranteed, but may help when other evidence is unavailable. If you or them kept any journals, diaries, etc.., they may become helpful.
- If you send anything via the mail to the VA, keep copies of everything. Don’t send originals. Use certified mail so you can prove they received it.
- Keep a log of activity between you and the VA, more or less like a diary. It can help if you need to see what was done and when.